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ear piercing

Letting Kids Make Mistakes

Yesterday I went to a new hairstylist who also has a 13 year old daughter. The girls have actually played soccer together but never on the same team. They know the same kids but haven’t been to the same parties, yet. As we were talking the stylist said to me, “My daughter wants a second piercing. What do you do about that?”

I told him that Jane’s been asking for one too and that I know it’s a mistake. I have more than one piercing and I’m here to tell you that one is more than enough. I can hardly squeeze on my wedding set most days.

I’m thinking of letting Jane make this mistake. She’s 13 and she’s got at least a half dozen, if not a dozen, years of horrible decision making ahead of her and my hope as her mother is that the terrible decisions she makes will have manageable consequences. My hope is that my daughter can learn how to fail. How else will she learn?

When they were little this was easy. The kids would try something new, not do well, look to me and I’d shrug. They’d shrug and try something new. Sometimes they’d fall down, they’d look at me and wonder if I’d respond to tears. I never responded with panic and they seldom cried. 

It’s the same with a teenager right?

I worry that we’ve been tricked into believing that adolescence is high stakes when really it’s just a time to learn to fall down and get back up again. The same as it was in toddlerhood, the same as it will be in adulthood. I worry that by making every decision for my child I’m stripping her of the ability to make decisions and that would be terribly cruel.

We haven’t decided how to respond to Jane about the ear piercing, but when a stranger asked me I told him that it’s a mistake that isn’t high stakes. Let’s see if I’m willing to take some of my own advice.